GreenBiz has an article exploring whether cities should re-think the practice of setting weight-based recycling goals. Among other factors, weight-based goals fail to address many varying environmental benefits of disparate materials.
Here’s an excerpt from the piece:
Lifecycle analysis allows us to look at the "big picture" by examining a product's complete life cycle, from raw materials to final disposal of the product — it offers a "cradle to grave" look at a product or process that considers environmental aspects and potential impacts.
"Using lifecycle analysis, it becomes crystal clear that the greatest greenhouse gas reduction potential associated with our industry is tied to the benefits of not using virgin resources in the first place," said Robinson. In other words: Recycling definitely is worth it, but we need to get smarter about what we recycle.
Sustainable materials management employs lifecycle analysis to determine the costs and benefits of recycling specific materials. This shifts the focus from broad weight-based metrics to more particular measures of materials.